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bourbonmed
10-31-2003, 11:46
Friends,

We best hang on to our Ridgewood Reserve 1792 bottles -- just in case Barton is forced to change design.

Cliff, Chuck: how do you legal eagles see this lawsuit ending?
Mike, are there similar cases in recent history?
Link below.

Omar

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2003/10/31/biz-front-bourbon31-5180.html

pepcycle
10-31-2003, 12:23
With all the cat and dog branding that goes on, you can't figure out where half the bourbon comes from anyway. Shoot, if half the world found out that Woodford was really Old Forester, they'd stop buying all that crap about the scenic distillery in Versailles. I think Barton should counter-sue and say Woodford misrepresents itself.
Now, I happen to like Old Forester and by extension, Woodford. I just hate to pay for the fancy bottle,the small distillery hype etc. Brown-Forman should just get over it. Maybe if they concentrated some effort into product instead of marketing, they wouldn't have so much trouble.
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif

bourbonmed
10-31-2003, 12:32
Ed,

With a giant '1792' in the center, the bottles hardly look alike. Just look at them side by side. Frankly, I like the Barton bottle better.


Omar

pepcycle
10-31-2003, 12:37
Omar,
I agree. Most people don't even know the name is Ridgewood Reserve. Everyone I've encountered refers to it as 1792. I like it better also from a flavor profile perspective as well as price point. I repeat. B-F should get over it. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif

Paradox
10-31-2003, 12:57
Just my opinion but I hope they loose that one bigtime and it gets thrown out. Pathetic that is... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/horseshit.gif I never once even thought of the 2 as similiar looking. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif

Dave_in_Canada
10-31-2003, 13:10
They're both attractive bottles. Hell, that's the reason I buy L&G. Just imagine the panic if they had dipped the cork in red wax http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

Paradox
10-31-2003, 13:29
OMG, what a similiar resemblance! NOT Give me a break Brown-Forman http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

brendaj
10-31-2003, 15:34
Ed,


Maybe if they concentrated some effort into product instead of marketing, they wouldn't have so much trouble.


I agree 100%. This whole suit looks so petty. Reminds me of MM trademarking wax drips... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif
Yepper, they should just get over it.
Bj

bluesbassdad
10-31-2003, 16:30
Yep. They should either get over it or go all out. Weren't they the first to use bottles, of any shape or design? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

tdelling
10-31-2003, 17:09
I might be a lone voice, but so be it.

For me it's the paper label: same size, same location.
Gives the two a "family resemblance".
That and the lettering in an arc above the main brand name.

Glancing at the two, side-by-side, I would assume that they
are related somehow.

Of course, once you read the words, you start to figure out
what's going on, but I think there's a legitimate complaint
there.


Tim Dellinger

bobbyc
10-31-2003, 17:30
Brown Forman uses the word " Birthday" in Birthday Bourbon, I have a Birthday. Do I have a Case ?
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

<font color="brown"> Good God Give Those Poor Guys at Barton A Break! </font>

Paradox
10-31-2003, 17:54
If they win by what you mentioned there's more proof that we live in a sue crazy, disgustingly ugly society... Give me a break. That is no where enough to prove that they stole the 'thunder' out from BF... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif

MurphyDawg
11-01-2003, 11:28
While I think the suit is just silly I would have to disagree, when I pulled these two bottles out side by side in my collection I was amazed at how similar they actually were, and I can honestly see how someone from who does not know much about the bourbon industry could presume they were from the same distillery. Actually that is the exact kind of similar bottle I expected BF to use when the inevitable "Woodford Reserve Distillery" line extensions arrive.

That said I have always been rather adamant about my annoyance with marketing in relation to bourbon, and this is yet another negative example of it. I would love to just focus on what is in the bottle, but some folks in the industry just cant get past looks. Its sad, just hope that it doesnt kill a great bottling of bourbon in the process.


TomC

Bob
11-02-2003, 07:23
Bobby,

I think that's an excellent point, and by the way, I think we all have birthdays, and we all should sue BF cuz of their BS! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bs.gif Don't they have anything better to do than this http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/horseshit.gif? I for one do not see much similiarity between the bottles. If I was looking for Woodford Reserve (which I'm not, and won't be as a result of this http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bs.gif), I can see the difference. If 4 people at a public tasting got it confused, that's their problem. Maybe they had too much to drink, or need to get their eyes examined! I'd also wonder how many people were at the tasting? 100? 1000? Anyway, like so many others, I'm dismayed at this news. It is ridiculous and I hope BF comes to their senses. If not, I hope Barton kicks their asses in this suit. GO BARTONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

tdelling
11-02-2003, 10:24
>If I was looking for
>Woodford Reserve (which I'm not, and won't be as a result of this ), I can see
>the difference. If 4 people at a public tasting got it confused, that's their
>problem.


Just to make myself clear:
If Brown-Forman is claiming that people will accidentally buy 1792 when
they are trying to buy Woodford Reserve, then I disagree with such a claim.


If, instead, Brown-Forman is claiming that people will buy 1792 thinking
that it is a special bottling of bourbon that is made by the same
people who produce Woodford Reserve, then I agree. I think 1792 looks
like "part of the family". 1792 looks like there is some connection
between it and Woodford Reserve. My first impression of 1792 is that it
is somehow a higher-priced higher-end limited-release version of
Woodford Reserve. That is the confusion that I think is legitimate.


Tim Dellinger

bourbonmed
02-06-2004, 10:50
And now Barton goes after Brown-Forman for 'misleading' Woodford Reserve advertising. See full story in link below. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/stickpoke.gif

Omar

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/02/06/biz-front-woodford06-6587.html

TNbourbon
02-06-2004, 14:36
I just hope the wind doesn't change direction too quickly, or somebody in this pissin' contest is gonna get wet!

aaron
02-06-2004, 17:00
I think both of them should get wet--this is all so asinine.

It's funny, though, I just walked in the door about half an hour ago with a bottle of Woodford Reserve in hand. I figured after the hellish day I had at work, I deserved a little treat. Now, after reading about all this nonsense, I'm thinking I should have shelled out the extra cash for that Blanton's I was eyeing so seductively in the package store... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

kitzg
02-10-2004, 10:52
from the article: "We've been very forthright about communicating that, and our consumers have understood it," Lynch said. (Lynch is the spokesperson for BF)

In my experience, if they want the "our consumers have understood it" argument to stand up in court, they had better have some marketing research studies that show consumers are not confused about the place of origin.

This is a very interesting case between BF &amp; Barton. I'm guess it all gets settled out of court. However, the Barton claim about misleading advertising is an FTC issue.

cowdery
02-10-2004, 12:24
One perspective I would offer, as a consumer not as a lawyer, is that Woodford Reserve's success seems to be based on the quality of the product (the bourbon, but also the presentation) more so than on the consumer's intention to drink pot still whiskey made at the distillery in Woodford County. The stuff about the historic distillery and all is more background music than anything else.

Also, the taste profiles of Woodford Reserve and Old Forester are different.

So what's really behind the lawsuit? I have heard, and I think this may have some credibility, that Brown-Forman filed this lawsuit to make a point about the bias and ineffectiveness of the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA), where this dispute should have been quietly resolved. It is derived from Brown-Forman's belief that the KDA and, by extension, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, has become a clique dominated by the Bardstown-area distilleries.

Ironically, because Barton probably is the smallest company in the mix, the real and ultimate adversary may be Jim Beam. Consider these facts. Brown-Forman has banked on brand names more than type. Its two most successful American whiskey products are not bourbons, Jack Daniel's and Early Times. Its marketing theory that the consumer buys brand names and not types seems supported by the success of Jack Daniel's, which is the best selling American straight whiskey in the U.S. and the world. Brown-Forman also makes two bourbons, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve, that are highly regarded. Also, Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill are the only American whiskey-making companies whose headquarters are in Kentucky. Brown-Forman is still largely controlled by the Brown family, whose roots in Kentucky and in the whiskey industry stretch back into the 19th century. No other American whiskey maker can say that at the corporate level (i.e., Jim Beam's parent has its roots in tobacco, Barton's is in wine, Buffalo Trace's parent is a liquor distributor in Louisiana and Texas, Wild Turkey's parent is French, Dickel's is English, as is Maker's, etc.)

So what? I guess I'm suggesting that behind what seemingly is a fight about trademarks and advertising is a battle for the soul of the American whiskey industry.

bourbonmed
02-13-2004, 11:42
And now Round # 3. ~ http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif

Cliff/Chuck, note reference to 'unclean hands' doctrine.

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/02/13/biz-front-booze13-4197.html

Omar

tdelling
02-13-2004, 12:31
That's really hilarious.

Unfortunately, I don't think that any of this will stop
the flow of Marketing Hooey.


Tim Dellinger

bluesbassdad
02-13-2004, 12:57
...the flow of Marketing Hooey.



I all but blush when I think of the few minutes here and there I've wasted reading the labels on bourbon before deciding to make a purchase.

Even after becoming relatively educated in such matters, thanks to the folks here at StraightBourbon.com, I still can't resist reading every word when I spot an unfamiliar bottling.

What's worse, I can't swear that I'm unaffected by the M.H., even when I know it's http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bs.gif . For example, about a year ago a bottle of Benchmark beckoned from the shelf, and the next thing I knew, it was in my basket. During the ensuing months, as I struggled to finish that bottle, I kept rereading the label in an attempt to make it taste better. It didn't work.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

pepcycle
02-13-2004, 13:05
I find it interesting that B-F interprets "legendary" as meaning "real". IMHO, legendary heroes and objects are ones whose existence is not nececssarily verifiable, as in Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Legendary, Yes. Real, Probably not. What better marketing than to refer to a non-existent or mythically magnificent still. Some people believe that cookies are made by elves in trees.
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif

TNbourbon
02-13-2004, 15:45
While I think this suit-countersuit thing is silly -- and realize that Barton doesn't control salesmen who work for distributors all over the country -- there is no doubt the local sales pitch is Ridgwood vs. Woodford during the current '1792' rollout in Middle Tennessee. The area distributor has priced it (15-20% lower) to compete favorably with Woodford Reserve, they suggest placing it on the shelf in proximity to Woodford Reserve -- in short, it is being pitched as being directly in competition with Woodford Reserve. So, much as I hate to say it, maybe Brown Forman has a point.

cowdery
02-13-2004, 22:03
As you correctly note, distributors and their sales people are independent of the manufacturers. However, manufacturers typically train the distributor sales people about things like merchandising strategies for new product rollouts. From my experience, this sounds like the sort of strategy that would come from the manufacturer. They can't make the distributor do anything, but this sort of shelf positioning and pricing suggestion from the manufacturer usually is followed by the distributor.

By the way, this is nothing new. Both Evan Williams and Ezra Brooks were intended to poach Jack Daniel's drinkers, and that's just one example of many in the broader spirits industry. It's a venerable tradition.

boone
02-14-2004, 08:47
Omar,

Around here, when somebody throws a rock at ya. We gather as many rocks, and folks, as possible, to finish this feud http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I am on the side of Barton's, "hands down". I looked, (and compared the two myself) at the picture in the link from the Courier. No eye glasses required on that one...

Maybe, they was figurin' the IQ factor in? Hey, they's real stupid (round'st here). They can't read, write and can't "see" too good either.

Well Geeeze, Jim Bob, this here's bourbon is frum BF and we's gonna buy it http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Time will tell the verdict on this one. I "hope" that Barton's wins.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Sittin' on a rock pile in Kentucky http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

brendaj
02-16-2004, 22:45
Bettye Jo,
I agree 100%


when somebody throws a rock at ya

I don't blame Barton a bit for mentioning the BF potstill http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bs.gif. (I know they're sposed to be bottling stuff from those L&amp;B potstills now, but... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif)
As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I remember someone on this forum mentioning several months ago, that Barton should bring that up... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
Does BF assume the Bourbon drinker is that clueless? If a person is too drunk/stupid to tell the difference between those two bottles, they shouldn't be drinking anyway... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif
I hope Barton's wins too.
Bj

cowdery
02-16-2004, 22:51
It's a pissing match between skunks. A pox on both their houses.

brendaj
02-16-2004, 23:04
Chuck,
Yes, you are absolutely right. And it all makes me wonder... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif They're both sitting back and smiling here...they're getting some serious press ... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
Bj

cowdery
02-17-2004, 14:00
Have you ever on nature shows seen the way chimps fight, either individually or in groups? There's a lot of screaming, jumping up and down, fake charges, throwing dirt, and very little actual fighting. This type of law suit is a lot like that. They'll make a lot of noise and then they'll settle it on the courthouse steps.

Mike Veach tells me there was a similar case between Old Charter and a brand called Charter Oak that lasted 12 years.

bourbonmed
04-06-2004, 10:05
The trial has begun. Here's an update...

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/04/06/B12-bourbon06-6812.html

Omar

jbutler
04-06-2004, 12:30
This suit is not without precedent Omar. Some years ago, something similar happened here with Kendall Jackson vs. E.J. Gallo.

wine label suit (http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Archives/Show_Article/0,1275,1141,00.html)

And pertinent info here:

results (http://www.grr.com/information/abouttrade.html)

bourbonmed
04-21-2004, 09:24
Barton Brands wants 6 months to make changes to its Ridgewood Reserve, just in case it loses the court battle. So hang on to that pretty 1792 bottle.

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/04/21/F1-coal21-4076.html

Omar

bourbonmed
04-23-2004, 12:51
And Brown-Forman prevails...

The current 1792 bottles are now a collector's item.

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/04/23/update_bourbon.html

Omar

TNbourbon
04-24-2004, 09:44
While I realize the long-term ramifications for Barton are negative, I find it amusingly ironic that Brown Forman probably prompted the sale of more Ridgewood Reserve 1792 short-term than it had sold total to date. I know I picked up three bottles this morning at a store offering it at $18.99 (were I a rich fellow, I'd have gotten a case). I think I even prompted the storeowner to consider buying a case for himself. Not only is it good bourbon (in my opinion, easily a match with recent Woodford Reserve), they've created an instant collectible bottling.
I now have five bottles, and the four unopened ones will remain that way for now, at least. I think I've only ever bought two bottles of Woodford Reserve, and am not rushing back for more.

cowdery
04-25-2004, 22:05
We were hearing that the new name will be Ridgemont Reserve.

cowdery
04-25-2004, 22:13
This was my favorite part of the story.



Among other things, Coffman sited evidence from a Barton executive who repeatedly used the name Woodford Reserve in a deposition when referring to Ridgewood Reserve 1792.



It probably should have read "former Barton executive."

OneCubeOnly
04-26-2004, 07:32
We were hearing that the new name will be Ridgemont Reserve.



Any word about whether they can continue with the same bottle shape? This has to be the prettiest piece of glass I've ever seen in a bourbon bottle!

cowdery
04-26-2004, 11:45
I have no specific information about this but I expect they will change only whatever is necessary to comply with the judge's order. This also assumes they won't appeal. Nothing has been said about an appeal and my guess is they won't.

Gillman
04-26-2004, 11:55
Has a link been posted to the order? I'd like to read it. If the matter was based on the likelihood of confusion by potential buyers of Woodford Reserve, with due deference to the judge who rendered the decision, I do not agree with it. I was wondering if the decision might have been based on other, or additional, grounds, e.g., copyright violation, breach of confidentiality, or something other than mere marketplace confusion. No doubt the test for confusion pertains to the casual buyer and is one of overall impression, but still..

Gary

cowdery
04-26-2004, 13:02
I haven't seen a link to the decision, but I think the key words from the CJ article are: "...the company purposely violated the trademark rights of Brown-Forman Corp." (emphasis added.)

cowdery
04-26-2004, 14:14
The Courier-Journal business writer who covered the Barton story is an old friend of mine. I emailed him and what he reported is what the judge delivered from the bench. She said the decision probably will be published tomorrow.

Here is a more detailed version of the story. (http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/04/24/F1-bourbon24-6603.html)

bourbonmed
04-26-2004, 15:14
This part is odd...

The judge ordered all Ridgewood bottles OUTSIDE Kentucky off retail shelves immediately and gave Barton 60 days to remove them from stores INSIDE the state.

Omar

cowdery
04-26-2004, 15:22
The rollout to the other states occurred after the lawsuit was filed, hence the difference. Also, as a practical matter, the judge knew the distribution outside Kentucky was minimal, so pulling the product would be easy. As a futher practical matter, the more generous allowance for distribution inside Kentucky would appear to be moot, as the stuff has been flying off the shelves ever since the decision was announced.

bobbyc
04-26-2004, 15:43
For all practical concerns , she could have ordered 6 days and the end result would be the same. Liquor Barn on Fern Valley Road was completely out by 8:30 Saturday. Maybe there's a bottle or 2 in Podunk Kentucky or some other little burg where everyone has had their heads under a rock for the last little bit.

pepcycle
04-26-2004, 15:45
Is Podunk north or south of Monkey's Eyebrow?

bobbyc
04-26-2004, 16:03
It's the same place, Where you are is what determines the correct name. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif

TNbourbon
04-26-2004, 16:53
As of this writing (late afternoon Monday), word still hasn't been channeled through distributors to retailers in Middle Tennessee that removal's been ordered. I managed to snag a 6-bottle case of Ridgewood (at 15% off its $18.99 shelf price, to boot) a little while ago from a retailer who'd stocked a bunch to begin with (hence, the low price) and knew he wasn't going to be able to sell it if it's recalled. He still had at least a couple of cases, if I haven't talked him into setting them aside for himself. Though The Tennessean newspaper ran a story last week about the lawsuit, I haven't seen anything yet about the decision. I suspect there is no rush here yet because of that. So, product is still available -- either until the distributors take it back, or consumers become aware it's disappearing anytime.

TNbourbon
04-26-2004, 17:01
From the Courier-Journal story:


Coffman cleared up one side issue that had occupied the opponents in the trial -- the shape of the two bottles. "The Woodford Reserve bottle is a flask," she said. "The Ridgewood Reserve bottle is a decanter."



So, apparently, they can keep the bottle, presumably the contents, but not the name/marketing. Interesting to see if they will keep the bottle.

doubleblank
04-26-2004, 17:10
When Val and I got off the plane in Louisville while traveling to the Sampler, our first stop was at the Fern Valley Liquor Barn. This was about 3 pm Friday. I perused the bourbon aisle looking for things we can't get in Texas. The Ridgewood Reserve was one and the OFBB was another. I picked up two of each....the shelf was full of the Ridgewood Reserve at that time. One of the Ridgewood's was marked for "wadewood" up in Seattle as he can't get any there, and I wanted one of his 2002 GTS's. Little did I know I was making a good purchase by accident...I hadn't heard about the decision. Collectible or not, I'm going to open mine because I want to know what it tastes like.

Randy B.

TNbourbon
04-26-2004, 18:12
I like it pretty well. So, I'm glad I've managed to lay in a decent supply, so I won't feel bad if I want to open one despite its irreplacability. Fortunately, the bottle I have open still is about 3/4-full.

brendaj
04-26-2004, 19:06
Tim,


Interesting to see if they will keep the bottle.



I bet they do. It's one of the best looking bottles on the shelf, and...
it will irritate BF http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/stickpoke.gif

jeff
04-26-2004, 20:47
and...
it will irritate BF



I was thinking the same thing: Leave the bottle as is, drop the "Ridgewood Reserve" leaving only the 1782, and change the placement of the label. Most of the "stupid consumers" that BF worries about won't know the difference and BF will be out a lot of money in legal bills for a change that doesn't amoun't to squat http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif

boone
04-26-2004, 23:32
I drive by Barton's on my way to work. Their big sign in front of the warehouses with 1792 bottle, is gone.

I do the embroidery for Barton's also. They have ordered shirts. They have instructed me to change the word "Ridgewood" to "Ridgemont" in their emboridered wearables.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Peter_Pogue
04-28-2004, 20:32
Hey, c'mon, I'm all for the little guy but have you read the decision? The judge said the names "Ridgewood Reserve" and "Woodford Reserve" were confusing to consumers. I don't think most consumers were confused. However, if you look at the text of the decision you will see the judge based her decision on the fact that a Barton (which produces Ridge(mont)wood) executive kept referring to his own product throughout the deposition as "Woodford Reserve". Now, if the company executive is confused with his own product how can the consumer not be? Barton will recover from this temporary setback. The Barton executive, and the lawyer and lawfirm who represented him at the deposition, I am afraid, will not. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/banghead.gif

bobbyc
04-28-2004, 21:19
I found this whole thing to be unfortunate. I had hoped that Barton would prevail, the addition of the Ridgewood Reserve Small Batch Bourbon was a welcomed one. However, if one goes to www.Bartoninc.com (http://www.Bartoninc.com) and click on "Let me see what the Lawyers have to say", this is the legal page of their website, Please tell me how much sympathy you have left in your heart for Barton after reading that.


I wonder if Brown-Forman took a cue from Barton there.
.

Speedy_John
04-29-2004, 05:59
I read Barton's legal page, as you suggested, and, to be honest, I found nothing wrong with it. In fact, I found it amusing in parts. A bit smarmy at times, but also amusing. Such pages--full of legal disclaimers and rules of use--are a part of nearly every website I have ever visited, and usually they are written in "legalese" and as interesting to read as the phone book. At least Barton's website people found a way to include the necessary legal stuff while putting it in a bit plainer English.

SpeedyJohn

jeff
04-29-2004, 06:10
That was quite an entertaining read Bobby, Thanks http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

It amounts to about what every legal disclaimer I have read amounts to, just sounds harsh in plain english. Maybe that's why they use "legal ease", to not offend anyone with the cold hard truth http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

I do think if I was Barton I would have softened that up a bit, or replaced it with the standard, hidden legal statement. Kinda justifies BF's actions on Barton's own site http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

OneCubeOnly
04-29-2004, 06:32
Is that harsh legal language new to their site? (ie. was it there prior to the lawsuit nonsense?) The natural response to all that is "gosh...they're sure bitter about legal issues!", but truth be told, it is all pretty standard stuff. I just haven't seen it without the normal 'sugar coating'.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/stickpoke.gif

boone
04-29-2004, 08:28
Please tell me how much sympathy you have left in your heart for Barton after reading that.




Hmmmmmmm... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif Now that's shootin' it straight...All of 'em should have pages like that (or simular) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif It does not change my attitude toward Barton's http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

With my little company I know enough about copywriting stuff to keep me outta court. There is a fine line with everything. It's comical to see that somebody took the time to state the facts (right between the eyes) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Gillman
04-29-2004, 10:27
Yes, but I see Bobby's point too. He's saying if these guys care so much about legal stuff - protecting themselves 6 ways to Sunday in this instance and spelling it out in a manner which (indeed) can be viewed as somewhat smarmy, we shouldn't feel too badly when another company uses the law in their own interest too. And I say that as someone who, so far anyway, doesn't see the reason or logic of the decision that went against Barton's, but the law cuts both ways, is what Bobby is saying. And Barton's knows they could have appealed the decision, it seems they have chosen not to, so probably they are not too upset with the result. They will repackage and rebrand the product. It got a lot of publicity and they know buyers will be out looking for the replacement package, so everything has kind of evened out, I think..

Gary

TNbourbon
04-29-2004, 15:16
Yeah, I'm kinda in the I-see-both-sides-of-it camp, too. Barton's legal disclaimers are appropriate and accurate -- and an admission that they knew better than to toy with anything close to the Woodford Reserve marketing.
I like Ridgewood Reserve, and I hope/trust it will stay on the market in some form. If not, then I feel sorry for us. If so, then I don't feel sorry for anybody. Barton should have played by its own stated rules.
(And, before anyone points it out, I admit that's a turnaround from my previous sentiment, which was to color B-F petty. But, they proved their case, it seems.)

cowdery
04-29-2004, 16:04
Do you have a link to the decision or a copy you can share? If so, please do.

I notice you are new to StraightBourbon. Are you an interested party in this particular dispute?

dhooch
04-29-2004, 17:47
You have a real good point! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif

Peter_Pogue
04-29-2004, 19:56
No, sir, I am not an interested party in the dispute. Are you? I do, however, subscribe to the Bourbon Country Reader, have a law degree, spend most of my time in litigation (including trademark infringement), know that I was hoping Barton would prevail due to the fact Brown Foreman is setting a dangerous trend, which by the way, may have a chilling effect on any new bourbons that want to enter the market (which is exactly what BF wants), but can't feel too bad if Barton's executive can't get his own product's name straight, and can't help but feel part of this is all a publicity stunt. If you read the article the statistics indicate Barton's sales skyrocketed after the litigation ensued. By the way, I've never seen debated on this website the following question: how can it be called a "small batch" bourbon if it is made in mass quantities by major conglomerates? I ordered a copy of the text of the opinion from Judge Coffman's office.

TNbourbon
04-29-2004, 21:17
Here's a link to the U.S. District Court, Western Kentucky (Coffman was the presiding judge):
U.S. District Court, Western Kentucky (http://www.kywd.uscourts.gov/)
but no opinion is yet posted.

cowdery
04-29-2004, 21:20
I'm an interested party in the sense that we all are but not in the legal sense. When you said you had read the opinion I perked up because I have been checking and didn't believe it had been issued yet. You were, apparently, referring to the account of the explanation given from the bench reported in the CJ.

On this board and others in which I have participated, people from the PR firms and ad agencies hired by the liquor companies attempt guerilla marketing from time to time. Invariably they are making only their first post when they innocently try to start a threat favorable to the product they are promoting. I noticed that you were posting for the first time and asked the question. No offense was meant and I hope none was taken. I hope you will continue to participate. It's a great group of people and a lot of fun.

As for being a lawyer, this board is like the rest of the world. Half of us (myself included) are lawyers, the rest hate lawyers, and no doubt some are self-loathing lawyers.

I have no statistics but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the lawsuit has been great for sales of Ridgewood Reserve. As for the chilling effect of this case, I'm not so sure. I think, as I have said before, that the bridge too far was Barton's use of the word "wood." If they hadn't used that word, there wouldn't have been a case.

As for small batch, I have challenged that term since Jim Beam coined it. It is only legitimate insofar as selecting barrels for bottling is a key part of "making" bourbon and that is, in fact, done in small batches in the cases of the products that use that term.

Peter_Pogue
04-30-2004, 07:06
Chuck,excellent points (as everyone has come to expect from you). Believe me, no offense taken. My only disagreement is with your statement about lawyers. I would assert that even the half that are lawyers also hate lawyers! I do wish that the PR and marketing people would stay off these sites. Aren't they the ones that got the mess between BF and Barton started to begin with? I agree with your assessment regarding the use of "wood". I am concerned, however, with what appears to be the judge's anecdotal statement about the use of "Distiller's Select" as being inappropriate. These names "Distiller's Reserve" "Special Select", etc. have, in my mind, been in the public domain and not trademarked so their use by anyone was fair game, just like the use of "small batch". I think this may lead to more litigation between companies over the use of these marketing phrases. But, this is very interesting to me, and as I said initially, I am very impressed with the breadth and depth of the knowledge of those engaging in the discourse on this site.

Gillman
04-30-2004, 07:50
I am one of us with a legal background and since you have read the case and practise law, can you explain a bit further what exactly the decision was?

Was it based on infringement of statutory trade mark rights? Was it based on common law passing off? (In either case, and speaking broadly, this means causing confusion in the mind of customers by using a product name or design similar to one used earlier by a competitor so that the consumer is led to buy product B when they mean to buy Product A). If this is the basis I can't see it because the packages were quite different in appearance and where the elements were similar, as you say, the words seem descriptive and in the public domain for many years.

The reason I ask is, I remember in law school many years ago reading of a court decision from Australia which involved an advertising campaign (I can no longer recall the product, might have been an orange or other soda) which involved a man coursing down a river in a canoe. There was an outdoor theme generally to the promotion. A competitor used a very similar ad campaign to promote its product. The court held this was a wrongful action (tort) which gave the first party to use the promotion the right to sue the second for damages. As I recall, there was no violation proved of copyright or trade mark rights.

I was wondering if Judge Coffman may have applied this type of legal reasoning for the decision. In other words, that BF had the right to the idea of presenting a product as made by a small company which sells only select, reserve products, and the association with a small rural operation (suggested perhaps by the use "wood", also its use in aging whiskey).

Did in a word Barton (in the judge's view) borrow the whole design/promotional concept of Woodford Reserve and did that form the basis for the decision, or was it based simply on old-fashioned trade mark infringement? If the latter what marks or designs specifically were felt to be misused in this way?

By the way, I don't hate lawyers, I do think we are a largely misunderstood crew (partly this is our own fault, though). Lawyers have done enormous good by and large to the societies in which they have had most influence. The results are not always seen on the surface of daily life, but a quick read of the world press shows us that many parts of the world would benefit from more common law and statute law enacted by truly democratic legislatures (traditionally dominated by lawyers), not less.

Gary

doubleblank
04-30-2004, 08:13
The wine industry also uses many terms to imply something special or remarkable about their product.....but without any verifiable standard to be measured against. "Reserve", "winemaker's reserve", etc imply that these wines are held back from their regular blend because they are special and bottled separately when in many, many cases the winery in question bottles 100,000 cases of its reserve. The terms you referred to also have an implication of something special or premium about the product, but no real standard to be measured against. What is the definition of "distiller's select" anyway? How would the judge know that my bourbon isn't a "distiller's select" by definition?

Randy B.

gr8erdane
04-30-2004, 11:28
I don't know about all the legal mumbo jumbo but I can at least understand this much. As my enthusiasm for bourbon has increased, I have been a busy evangelist preaching the word to people and I have had many ask for my opinion on what they should try. If I were to tell them Ridgewood Reserve and send them scurrying to the store, and if they had not written it down they might easily have purchased Woodford Reserve instead. Personally, I think they would have come home with the lesser value. But that is my own personal opinion.

cowdery
04-30-2004, 13:01
Supposedly a written decision is forthcoming. All we have now is the order, which says: "the court rules in favor of the Plaintiff on the trademark infringement claim as to word mark, and in favor of the Defendants on the registered label design." This is why I say it all boiled down to the word "wood," which I see as sufficiently distinctive to merit trademark protection. All of the other evidence merely supported the contention that Barton's use of the word "wood" was a deliberate infringing act and not inadvertant.

As for prohibiting the use of "distiller's select," I think it has to be viewed in context of the prohibition on use of the words "ford," "Labrot" and "Graham," none of which were used by Barton originally. I would certainly argue that the prohibition is prophylactic and case-specific, but I could imagine some future BF attorney arguing that it gives BF exclusive use of the phrase "distiller's select."

Marvin
04-30-2004, 13:39
Gary,

I agree with you 100%. This is a win win situation for both parties. That might not seem right to some people but if you stop and think about it, VOB is going to sell a lot more because of this and Brown and Forman(and I think this may be the case) are going to sell a lot more Woodford Reserve, but of course, I am prejudice, so I will just have to stand on that rock-pile with Boone and defend VOB.

Cheers,
Marvin

Gillman
04-30-2004, 15:03
Thanks, Chuck. If the judge held that "Ridgewood Reserve" is confusingly similar to "Woodford Reserve", I, again, respectfully disagree with the decision. "Reserve" is clearly a descriptive term. "Ridge" and "ford" are different terms, evidently. I don't see that the single unifying element, "wood", can cause confusion when it is one-third of each of the marks, and taking into account also that Defendant won on the design mark issue.

Barton would have won on appeal, in my view.

Gary

bourbonmed
04-30-2004, 15:33
Marvin,

They better sell enough to cover those pesky legal fees.

Omar

bobbyc
04-30-2004, 17:27
Many excellent thoughts here. Brown-Forman's (http://www.brown-forman.com/content/legal.htm) Website legal page reads like it was written by some older fellows( or Ladies) in Pinstriped suits. Permission to copy print or use things except trademarks is given freely, with a few conditions. Certainly one doesn't see the challenging attitude that Barton has on theirs.
I regret the way it turned out, wished the best for Barton. At the same time the website lawyers or whoever wrote that piece, make it a little harder, for me at least, to have warm and fuzzy feelings for them. I can enjoy the products regardless .

dgonano
04-30-2004, 18:46
Dane,
That's exactly the situation. An ordinary Joe hears good things about a bourbon named Woodford Reserve. He or she goes to the store and inadvertantly picks up Ridgewood Reserve. What if that person heard bad things about Ridgewood Reserve. He or she could tell the person next to them at the liquor store to avoid Woodford as they have heard how lousy it tastes.

How would you feel if you poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising to promote your product only to have the average customer buy a competitor's bourbon, thinking they had bought your whiskey.

TNbourbon
04-30-2004, 22:25
I (not a lawyer, but as a reporter covered many legal issues), too, was confused and puzzled by the "Distiller's Select" part of the ruling. The first thing I did was go and double-check my jug of Evan Williams' Master Distiller's Select, and wonder if I need to start hoarding it before Brown-Forman strikes again. Surely, if Barton can't use the term, neither can Heaven Hill. Or, has the EW bottling (jugging?) been around longer than Woodford Reserve? In that case, would B-F be entitled to use the term?

bobbyc
05-01-2004, 05:38
Is this a forward looking part of the ruling, since Barton didn't use the terms"Distiller's Select" to begin with?

bourbonmed
05-03-2004, 13:11
Check out this press release. Ridgemont coming by summer.

http://www.happyhours.com/pressRelease_story.htm?&amp;itemid=303

Omar

cowdery
05-03-2004, 14:57
I sure would like to know how "Judge Coffman's decision ... will enable more consumers the opportunity to enjoy a truly great small-batch bourbon."

bourbonmed
05-12-2004, 09:51
The 'new' 1792.

http://www.courier-journal.com/business/news2004/05/12/F1-bourbon12-4137.html

Omar

dgonano
05-12-2004, 10:57
Omar,

Thanks for the post. Now both parties are satisfied and Barton has received a lot of publicity. I guess they should write-off their legal expenses as promotional costs.

Bob
05-12-2004, 11:03
I'll be looking forward to grabbing one of the new bottlings during September's Festival!

Bob

TNbourbon
05-12-2004, 14:59
Am really glad to see they kept the bottle. As someone (Brendaj, I think) noted elsewhere here, it's one of the most striking on the shelf. For those of you who haven't ever seen a 'live' bottle, there is no significant change here. "Ridgewood Reserve" was placed above the 1792, and now "Ridgemont Reserve" is below it; and, the rectangular batch-# label similar to Woodford's is gone from the lower portion of the product front. That's it.

cowdery
05-12-2004, 17:00
The new bottle.

Paradox
05-13-2004, 16:47
And the old bottles are already on eBay... (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&amp;category=822&amp;item=367713777 9&amp;rd=1)

angelshare
05-13-2004, 17:56
Not being a collector of sealed bottles for the most part, how much do you think an unbroken seal increases this particular bottle's value? Obviously, the contents are not unique, but I know that sealed vs. unsealed means a lot to a lot of collectors.

$41 with four days left. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif Do any of you experienced collectors have a guess at the winning bid?

TNbourbon
05-13-2004, 20:47
I can't say I haven't been expecting this. This is a case where I think the market will set the price, because these are 'instant collectibles' and the supply is finite. I have no idea what to expect these bottles to bring. I have mixed feeling about them getting high dollars -- while I snatched up a number of them (including some for fellow SB.com'ers), I can't sell/ship them from here in Tennessee. Of course, Florida, where this bottle is being sold from, is a felony state, too.

angelshare
05-14-2004, 12:42
I can't sell/ship them from here in Tennessee. Of course, Florida, where this bottle is being sold from, is a felony state, too.



I am certainly no expert, nor am I a collector of sealed bottles; however, I was under the impression that the buying of collectibles (if the product in question was no longer manufactured/available through usual retailers) was considered a different type of transaction legally. For instance, I know that you sometimes see "collectible alcohol" (eg, Billy Beer) in junk/antique shops.

I'm sure differences in state law make such a transaction very complex in terms of legal implications, too.

Paradox
05-14-2004, 13:27
It's not so much an issue of collectible etc, it's state shipping laws that do not allow the shipment of alcohol in or out of the state. KY enforces it as do others. It's really if you and the other person are willing to do it to be honest. If you wrap and protect it good and are willing to do it, chances are it'll make it in and out of a state that does not allow it... It's just a risk.

TNbourbon
05-14-2004, 14:56
Ebay does indeed differentiate between 'liquor' and 'collectible container' -- that doesn't mean a zealous local prosecutor will, however.

BSS
05-14-2004, 15:14
Law officials don't care if it's for collecting or what. If it has liquor in it, you typically can't legally ship it over state lines without a liscenses. And some states will not allow it even if you do have a liquor liscense. The legal system is not going to take the time to differentiate between 'collectable' and 'non-collectable' bottles.
I was actually thinking that its illegal for anyone without a liquor liscense to sell alcohol to anyone....in state, out of state, or where ever. You can't exchange alcohol for something of value unless your liscensed to do so.

dgonano
05-14-2004, 15:54
Look, all those stupid laws were set up to protect the middleman whom the governments set up after prohibition. I' m sure it would be fine and dandy if you shipped all your out of state liquor purchases to your local distributor.

TNbourbon
05-14-2004, 20:54
In fact, that is exactly what, in effect, I've recently done. I am interested in being able to buy Black Maple Hill in Tennessee. So, I approached a dynamic retailer whom I knew would search it out, he's gotten it registered with the state through one of the local distributors, and it will eventually make it to his store shelf (if there's still any left) for me to buy. So, yes, in effect, I'm having my (desired) out-of-state purchase made via my local distributor/retailer.
And, yes, it is the liquor distribution lobby who howl loudest about any suggestion that shipping laws be lessened, not parents worried their 14-year-old will buy a $40 bottle of bourbon online, wait a week for shipment, and then wait on the front porch to intercept delivery.

dgonano
05-14-2004, 21:34
Tim,

I've still have that bottle of Dickel Reserve with your name on it. Do you really want me to send it to your distributor.

cowdery
05-14-2004, 21:59
THE VALUE OF THIS ITEM IS IN THE DECANTER BOTTLE ITSELF NOT ITS CONTENTS. THIS ITEM IS NOT INTENDED FOR CONSUMPTION.



That's what the guy selling the 1792 on eBay included in his description. Other people selling bottles and decanters of whiskey on eBay and elsewhere include similar wording. Does that disclaimer mean anything, legally? Does it offer some kind of legal protection? Is it some kind of incantation with magic powers? In my opinion, no, no, and no. It is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages without a license, period. There is no legal distinction between "collectible" and "consumable" except in Fantasyland.

So why aren't people getting busted? The purpose of the relevant laws is to prevent underage sales, preserve the three-tier system, and preserve the privilege of individual states to regulate alcohol sales as they see fit. Occassional transactions between individual adult collectors don't really threaten those purposes so nobody is in any hurry to prosecute. Does that mean it's "okay"? No. Does that mean there won't be prosecutions in the future? No. Mark stated it very well.

dgonano
05-14-2004, 22:34
Chuck,

Well said. I agree with you, but you live in Illinois and I live in Maryland. You have access to whiskies that I only hope to taste and vice versa. The internet and next day shipping have made many of us oblivious to these old state laws. I don't believe underage purchases to be a problem anymore as many if not all of the e-bay sellers demand that proof of age ID be sent to them before delivery. Most out of state shippers demand that the person accepting delivery show ID.

When we go to the Bourbon Festival in September are we allowed to bring our purchases back to our home states? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

I assume many of us will be breaking these antiquated laws.

angelshare
05-15-2004, 00:01
When we go to the Bourbon Festival in September are we allowed to bring our purchases back to our home states? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

I assume many of us will be breaking these antiquated laws.



I don't know about MD, but VA ABC allows 1 gallon of distilled spirits per adult according to the website. Maybe MD has an equivalent of VA's legal limit?

BSS
05-15-2004, 07:38
I have bought several bottles off ebay, and I have never had to send any proof of age. And I would never send a photocopy of my liscense to some person I dont know.

The disclaimer statement many include when theyre selling full bottles, in my opinion, is the same as someone shoplifting and then telling the police that they were just borrowing it. Legally it doesn't matter what you say it is, it's what the law says it is.

TNbourbon
05-15-2004, 08:54
Yes, I will (and already have several times) be committing a felony both going to and coming from the Festival in September. Just crossing the state line with a bottle is illegal here. In state, I can carry up to three gallons without a bill of lading AND a distributor's license. So, I think I'm going to be in double jeopardy when I head to Kentucky in September with the Ridgewood Reserve bottles some of you have spoken for (I'll drive carefully -- at least until I hit the KY state line http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif).

Paradox
05-15-2004, 08:57
I've driven (and my friend too) from KY to NY with the rear suspension of our cars bottomed out due to ALOT of bourbon in the trunk and back seat as well. Like you said, you just have to drive carefully...

brendaj
05-15-2004, 13:47
Tim,


I'm going to be in double jeopardy when I head to Kentucky in September with the Ridgewood Reserve bottles some of you have spoken for (I'll drive carefully -- at least until I hit the KY state line ).



Maybe someone should meet you at the state line... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
Two people could go back and forth accross the line until it was all legal, then you're merrily down the road... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif
How stupid it all is...
Bj

dhooch
05-15-2004, 15:01
My dad lived in KY and had an old station wagon with a soft suspension. He was pulled over by a local cop because it looked like he was carrying moonshine. Luckily, he wasn't. The cop looked inside the car and let him go on his merry way. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif